Lower Largo, Fife

House, Lower Largo

You could say that Lower Largo is famous for one thing, but famous is hardly the word. However if you do take that turn-off on the A915 Kirkcaldy-St Andrews road and land up there it will soon be obvious what it is. Because Lower Largo was the birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, immortalised as Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. He was born here in 1676 and ran away to sea less than 20 years later to work as a buccaneer. On one voyage in the South Pacific he grew concerned about the state of his ship (good call; it later sank) so stayed ashore on the Juan Fernandez Islands, little knowing there would be four years of solitude before he was rescued.

It's a story that captures everyone's imagination, but considering the romance and drama of Selkirk's life, his legacy in Lower Largo is pretty low key. The first sight to hit you is the Crusoe Hotel, which has an enviable spot beside the harbour. There's no mistaking that it's that Crusoe with a sign made out of driftwood and a signpost saying "Juan Fernandez Island 7500 miles". Round the corner at 101 Main Street there is an Alexander Selkirk statue, on the house that now stands on the site of his birthplace. No doubt if he had been born anywhere else there would be Robinson Crusoe-themed boat trips that take you out to a rock and leave you there for the day, but here it's refreshing to find such a simple tribute to a remarkable man.

This fits in with Lower Largo as a whole - despite its hugely picturesque setting it's a sleepy wee place. Traditional Fife fisherman's houses sit higgledy-piggledy under a viaduct which was built in the 1800s to carry the railway line through. The trains have long gone thanks to Dr Beeching, and the harbour which used to hold 36 herring boats is almost empty but the place hasn't lost any of its character. Like many of the villages in the East Neuk of Fife it is a conservation area, and great care has been taken to keep it just the way it is.

Robinson Crusoe's birthplace sign, Lower Largo

At the west end of a wonderful stretch of coast Lower Largo is a great place to start exploring the East Neuk, or if you're walking the Fife Coastal Path it's a lovely place have a rest and watch the world go by.

How to get there

Heading North, follow the M90 over the Forth Road Bridge. Turn off at Junction 2A on to the A92 East Fife Regional road to Kirkcaldy East. At Kirkcaldy East follow A915 Leven/St.Andrews signs to Lundin Links. In Lundin Links turn right to Lower Largo. Google map.

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